As a very frequent traveller I've long since mastered the art of packing for up to four days with hand luggage only. The key benefit of doing this comes on landing, when one doesn't have to hang around the airport for an hour or so while baggage handlers finish their breakfast. For this weekend I'd planned to be on the road at 10:30am, some fifty minutes after landing in Lisbon Airport. Unfortunately, this proved to be wildly optimistic. The delays began shortly after the aircraft doors were closed at Dublin Airport, when the pilot informed us of air traffic restrictions en route which meant that we'd be sitting on the ground for an hour before take off. We learned later that these were due to French military activity over the Bay of Biscay. I'll leave it to the reader to speculate why it was necessary to close off commercial air routes just to wave white flags in the air on a sunny morning.
On landing, it took a grand total of two hours and thirty minutes to retrieve my rental car from Europcar thanks to a queue snaking half way across the airport. This was in stark comparison to all the other rental agencies, none of whom had more than three or four people waiting to be served. According to the staff member we spoke to these delays are entirely normal during the summer period. When my car finally turned up it had ninety thousand kilometers on the clock, worn brake discs which made the whole car shudder in use, and a ridiculous amount of body damage. It also achieved less than five hundred kilometers per tank of fuel, spectacular for all the wrong reasons on a tiny car. I've said it before, but it bears repeating; avoid Europcar at all costs.
10th July 2010
This park was known as Bracâlandia at the time of this visit.
The original Bracâlandia was a four coaster park in Braga that closed three years ago, relocating roughly fifty kilometers away to Penafiel. The reconstituted park opened this year despite being somewhat incomplete, and while completely operational it nevertheless feels like a construction site in places. The entrance gate in particular was surprisingly bare, with only a small green dinosaur hinting that there might be an amusement park within.
At present the park has only a handful of attractions, scarcely enough to pass more than an hour or two even for normal people who don't go to over fifty parks a year. The largest of these is a medium sized log flume located just inside the main entrance. Of more interest to me was Montanha Magica (#1535), a mid sized coaster from L&T Systems that was surprisingly jarring when compared to others of this genre. Beyond that there was a giant wheel, a carousel, a train ride, a dark ride (out of order today), and two different spin rides; in short, not enough to hold our interest. We did note a large sign indicating the planned construction of phase two which ought to make the park worth the effort, but until then it probably isn't unless you're in the area for something else.
10th July 2010
Funcenter is a small entertainment facility located within Centro Colombo, a ridiculously large shopping centre in downtown Lisbon. It felt surprisingly bland and bare compared to some of the other shopping centre parks I've been to, despite a good chunk of the space being taken by the Montanha Russa (#1536). The layout is a custom design, but it feels very much like a medium sized roller skater design that has been stretched in different directions. Riders are sent round the course four times, which is about as many circuits as any enthusiast is likely to want.
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